EU Examines Visa Waiver Policy, Caribbean CBI Programs to Be Affected

Source: Loop Caribbean
Five Caribbean countries that operate Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programs are at risk of losing their visa-free access to the European Union as the body is looking at strengthening their visa waiver program to improve security and prevent illegal migration.

On October 18, the EU Commission adopted a proposal for regulations to amend the current visa suspension mechanism. The amendments aim to prevent abuse of the visa waiver program along with tackling risks posed by persons who purchased their citizenship via a CBI program.

The EU visa waiver program allows nationals from 60 countries to visit 27 Schengen zone countries for up to 90 days for tourism and business.

The proposals, which are made in the sixth report under the Visa Suspension Mechanism, are:

Expand the grounds for suspension, to include non-EU countries that are not fully aligned with the EU’s visa policy and visa-free non-EU countries operating investor citizenship schemes;

Increase the duration of the procedure to allow more time for remedial actions. A new urgency procedure is introduced to react faster in case of sudden challenges to the visa-free regime

Strengthen the Commission’s monitoring and reporting obligations to any visa-free countries where challenges are identified

In the report, the EU expressed concerns about the high number of passports sold by Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis and Saint Lucia

A total of 88,000 passports were sold by the Caribbean nations since their programs began, the EU Commission report stated.

Dominica, a country with just over 72,000 inhabitants, has issued 34,500 passports while St Kitts and Nevis has issued 36,742.

The Commission has raised concern about the programs which have a low rejection rate of between three and six percent and a short processing time of at least two months. They are also some of the cheapest golden passport programs in the world with a minimum investment of US$100,000.

Additionally, middlemen are often hired to process the applications and the EU is concerned that rules set by the countries on paper aren’t being followed

Based on the information presented to the EU, the main CBI applicants are nationals from China, Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Nigeria and Libya.

The Commission welcomed the countries’ decision to suspend applications from Russian and Belarusian nationals.

The Commission added that it “will also continue to monitor all visa-free countries operating investor citizenship schemes and will intensify the dialogue with those countries in view of finding long-term solutions aimed at preventing any possible circumventions of the EU short-stay visa procedure and the in-depth assessment of individual migratory and security risks it entails.”

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